In the fashion world there are a number of entrepreneurs that are constantly challenging the status quo. For top model and CEO Anina Net, her passion for technology drove her to build new platforms for fashion using tech despite the hesitation from the fashion industry.
FIB spoke with Anina about her transition from model to fashion industry pioneer, her journey to achieve her success, and her future endeavours in fashion tech.
Coming from a family of computer engineers, Anina grew up exploring and learning about the dazzling intricacies of technology. Much to her family’s dismay, she developed a love for modelling and pursued a successful career in it during her adult life.
“I personally became a fashion model because I was hated in school, lots of people were really mean to me and I got this streak inside that said I’m going to show you all how it’s done and then no one can touch me. As I evolved, I think fashion modelling really trained me to be a really great entrepreneur.”
Her status as a global top model inspired her to use the ‘megaphone’ she was given to create a new mode of fashion that incorporated the tech, making waves in fashion and dubbing her the ‘tech model’ within the industry.
“Fashion models are the first icons, the first ideas of what you see in the world to give you a direction to go towards. It’s my philosophy of why we need role models, as I became this development of this ‘tech model’ I had no role model. I had no one I could look to and say ‘I can be like that’.”
So Anina became that role model herself. While the world was looking to Milan, London, New York and Paris as the leading capitals for fashion, Anina made her way to China to revolutionise the fashion tech world.
The ambivalence and hesitation from the Western world made it difficult for Anina to share her insights and fashion tech products, yet she says this wasn’t the only reason she decided to take China by storm.
“I knew that the economic crisis was coming and I saw that the Olympics were coming in China and I thought ‘I’ve gotta go to China’, and no one wanted me to go to China. They were all like ‘there’s no fashion in China’…but all I saw was Olympics. They are going to want to do fashion campaigns, nobody wants to go to China. I’m going to China.
“I made up quite a naïve business plan. I said ‘I’ll go to China and then I’ll become China’s top foreign model and then everyone will play my game Anina Dress Up’ and then I’ll revolutionise the fashion industry from the top down. Lots of times naivety will get you over the line!”
The bold moves that she was making in the fashion tech industry finally begun getting recognised in 2010 by ministers of the fashion industry who admittedly did not understand what she was doing with tech or just how much of an impact it would have in the years that followed.
Luckily, they recognised that Anina’s tech endeavours were the right direction to move towards and commissioned her to build an exhibition to demonstrated technologies such as augmented reality, mobile apps, and beacons to brands in an effort to showcase how they could be implemented in fashion.
“Now the fashion industry is really here [in China], vibrant and using technology, there’s more and more fashion tech products coming out. I would say, boldly, that it has changed because of the initiatives that the China Garment Association and the China Designers Association and I took in building, over five years, in building all of these exhibitions, training, panels, etc.”
There’s no doubt that Anina’s perseverance and knowledge about fashion tech is in abundance. Even her motivation to continue through every set-back as an entrepreneur far from home and a woman in an emerging field of fashion she is helping to build from the ground up.
Anina said that her main source of motivation comes for her passion for innovation.
With the implementation of innovative fashion tech now booming in China and set to take on the Western fashion world soon, we look to Anina’s company 360Fashion Network for the latest in fashion tech, wearable technologies, and smart garment manufacturing.
“We’re fashion integrators, it means that we can take technology and plug it into fashion.”
Dabbling in illuminated jewellery, wireless charging wallets and luxury jackets, the fashion tech products Anina is producing are continually challenging the fashion of today, and setting a mode for fashion of the future.
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Anina’s inspiration to make fashionable tech for women came from the masculine jewellery that was being sold by brands attempting to tackle IOT jewellery. Anina’s first project in creating women’s wearable tech? Solving the power problem.
She created two wireless charging wallets, one was a portafoglio style for travel and another smaller evening clutch in multiple colours.
Among the jewellery that 360Fashion Network have created for women, they produced Smart Notification Rings with geo-location tracking to improve safety while travelling.
As for what’s next for Anina and 360Fashion Network, they’re now designing luxury robots. Otherwise known as Drinkbots.
“My perspective on robots is that they look terrible and my robot is going to be a super high-end, luxury, beautifully designed robot that would fit into a luxury hotel environment and not look like a scary freaking ghost. I couldn’t find anyone that wanted to put a robot on the runway so I’m going to put the robot on the runway myself.”
Anina also said that her ideal collaboration with a big luxury fashion brand is with Armani Hotel and Armani Casa. With beautiful designs and a high-tech feeling in mind, she modelled the suit jacket to be able to fit on a manager of a hotel or a luxury retail environment in an Armani store.
What makes the jacket so special? Embroidered touch-pads on the sleeves that can control the environment around you, such as sound, temperature and lighting.
360Fashion Network seem to have a 2019 packed with new exciting endeavours. Just this year they’ll be holding a the Diversity Meets Technology summit, launching the 360Fashion tech maker kits at New York Fashion week and robotic dresses at Melange Fashion show. Not to mention, their continuous efforts to secure the launch of an ecommerce portal for product purchases and an education platform for fashion technology
“If there’s one thing that I would like to tell fashion brands, it’s this: if you do not start to experiment with technologically enabled products, you may find yourself in the near future, naturally eliminated from the market.”
You could definitely say Anina Net secured her position as the icon of technology in the fashion tech industry.
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